My objective was to succeed at least one expatriation. I had a job (dicey certainly), a roof, and after only 2 months I had a strong group of friends. So yes, everything was not negative neither. I talked about the negative part first (my induction and my job description…) but the positive elements were abundant and it’s thanks to them that I could cope and enjoy my expatriation in the UK on a professional perspective.
The most important aspect, was the human factor. It could seem silly, but I remind you that I work in HR. And I do it for very good reasons. If the relationship with the people around me, colleagues and managers, was not fine… Then yes, indeed, I would have left immediately.
However, the communication has always been nice and efficient. The HR team on my campus welcomed me (from the 2nd day!) and integrated me to the ongoing projects (I just didn’t have the tools or accesses to immediately work on them), and they always took the time to explain to me the complex organisation I was part of. The other HR teams on the other sites always welcomed me as well.
I was also surrounded by passionate employees and managers, who were fighting to change the ways of working, processes, etc.
Helpful colleagues and passionate employees… It gives good reasons to stay!
2nd important point: responsibilities. When I find a mission where I can actively participate, the company easily gives its trust to a VIE, and can also gives the lead. The VIE is now an external status however it is not, fortunately, considered as an intern or apprentice. I have nothing against these statuses but I mean the organisation reckons the VIE is already graduated, already has experience, and will be mature and autonomous enough to autoevaluate his/her competences and so proclaim if he/she can bring, or not, an added value or to fix the specific issue. Or if his/her expertise is only partial, the VIE will know how to request the needed help.
From July to mid-November, I was quite bored. I was fixing access/tools/expenses issues and it was taking me 50% of my time. The rest was busy working on one-off projects. Actually, my days were pretty much busy but not 100% busy by defined HR missions.
From December, I could replace an HRBP colleague who was filling another position, during 6 months. It was absolutely not the job I applied for but it was really nice and pleasant to see a senior HRBP accepting my help and trusting me, and to have the same responsibilities as the job I was supposed to do since my first day.
You start in a complex organisation and your managers gives missions with important decisions to make to you, that generate true consequences to the business. A real challenge and this is exactly the purpose of the VIE if you want my opinion 😉
To give concrete examples (in addition to the replacement of a colleague without any transition period between the two of us), I was in charge or rebuilding a new induction programme for a specific division I was assigned to. I wasn’t satisfied about my own induction so I suggested a new version, over all Europe.
I also participated to the deployment of a new attendance and time management system, changing a lot the employees’ habits, from the testing to the training of all employees and managers on the campus. I dealt with the communication too.
Then, I was also in charge of the forecast of the wage bill for some business lines. I give you a summary, there is a lot of criteria to take into account, I was making the final decision on the headcount a division can have by the end of the financial year (according to finance, ongoing projects, sites demography, etc.). It’s clearly not a mission I will give to the first comer.
There are just examples, I had a lot more missions. Pretty cool, isn’t it?!
Third, I had the chance to get various missions. The world of HR is huge. Recruitment, career management, learning, payroll, etc. With the position entrusted, and especially during my seeking of new missions, I could approach a large scope of tasks and missions. The main advantage of an HRBP is that he/she is supposed to be versatile and agile. Mobility, recruitment, talent development, employee relations, etc. The diversity avoids the routine and allows to develop the skills in a large scope. Perfect! As I have difficulties to support the routine and as the goal of the VIE contract is to develop the skills (I also always wanted to stay generalist rather than a specialist). The role of the HRBP is versatile but also very operational. You manage your area, your managers and employees, you deal with your topics on a day-to-day basis but also have to think about the long-term strategy. While I was finding and creating my missions, I had to wear a second hat: HR projects. It allows you to get rid of the routine tasks, to develop your professional network (even beyond the HR departments) and allows you to build something, to make your contribution, to leave your mark. Not easy in a large organisation. And you work differently in project mode. You get out of your routine and it’s nice!
The fourth reason is the travels. If it’s not the 1st page you’re reading, you know now that travel is a nice drug that flow peacefully in my veins and that make my heart beats (Ah! I feel like a poet sometimes).
My job being transnational and transdivisional, my colleagues, my scope and my missions cover several sites. So I didn’t stay in Cardiff but travelled a lot (and allowed me to discover or see again a few cities): London, Portsmouth, Chester, Bristol, Paris, Toulouse, Munich… Frequently! In addition to visit cities, it also break the routine. Plus, my travels give me the opportunity to discover the company and its products. I have to admit it’s quite impressive to go to a meeting and, to reach the meeting room, you go through all aircrafts under construction and satellites… So cool, huh?! Aerospace has always been a childish dream so I am always amazed when I travel to a different site.
For all these reasons, and also because my integration in the country and the city went well, I can make a positive conclusion of this VIE.
[Update 28/06/2016: at this time, I am just finishing my 1st year and have been renewed for another year].
I probably won’t say it is the best experience in my career. The latter is still short but the VIE experience is not even the best education or the most exciting! However I would it is an excellent springboard. During my 1st year, I received many requests from employers and recruitment agencies. The name of the company I work for plays a little bit of course, but expatriation and the entrusted responsibilities attract the recruiters’ curiosity.
My personal integration went very well and I succeeded to have a life I like in Cardiff. Professionally, the induction was chaotic but the fog has been slowly cleared up and responsibilities came very quickly. Watch this space for the coming year…
Let’s a little bit further together. If you are interested by the VIE, I know that professional experience interests you but you also look for information about the move of an expatriate to a different country an on other information about the VIE.
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